Review: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Title: Graceling
Author: Kristin Cashore
Author Info: Website / Twitter / Goodreads
Pub Date: October 1, 2008
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 471
Purchase: Indie / Amazon / Barnes and Noble

"Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight—she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug. When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change. She never expects to become Po’s friend. She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace—or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone."
Some great world building in this book, I would find myself trying to map out the seven kingdoms in my head. I’m horrible with directions and I think it’s possible that I might even be able to find my way from Randa’s realm to Ror’s kingdom. It was very descriptive about the kingdom terrains and the culture. To me I thought it was so fascinating and I wanted to hear more about all the kingdoms. This book is really about the characters. In a way it’s 3 books..Katsa’s story, Po’s story and Bitterblue’s story and how the three affect one another and kind of merge together.
I found Katsa to be a really intriguing character. Even though she’s killed or severely injured gobs of men, she was still innocent. She seemed almost robotic at the beginning of the book, just functioning how she was told to function in part because she believed herself to be a trained killer and nothing more. Though you do see that she actually does care about people and the world around her, it takes the saying “actions speak louder than words” to heart. Even though we never see her really embrace being a girl, we see her change as the book progresses and especially when she meets Po.  I didn’t mind that she is set on the fact that she doesn’t want to get married. I don’t think it has anything to do with hating men. The way I saw it, is that the way the world she’s in works is that your husband has the ability to make your decisions for you. This is what has happened to her for her whole life. She felt like that Randa had control over her and there was nothing she could do about. For her not marrying someone does not mean she doesn’t love them but she is afraid of being trapped.
Po is a great character. For some reason he reminds me of the pirate Peter Blood from the book   Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini. He has that witty sarcastic charm about him. He radiates a laid back and care free persona even though you can tell he is kind, caring and would do anything for the ones he loves.
I also really enjoyed Bitterblue, which makes me excited to read the book dedicated to her. Her character definitely stands out.
Of course there is a love story. It’s sweet and strange all at the same time. It actually seemed more comfortable than anything else. The progression of it was natural and it didn’t come slap you in the face. I loved Katsa’s reaction to it when she realized what was going on because she really had not thought of anyone in that way before. Very cute.
The plot was good, like I said the book is more about world building and the characters. It’s like the plot revolves around the characters rather than the characters revolving around the plot. I thought it was well done though. There were points when I was wondering how they were going to get themselves out of the mess that they were in. I was good with the ending it just felt right.
Definitely an enjoyable read.